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Discussion in 'Australia' started by Simon Hampel, 26 Nov 2003.

  1. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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    On my last work trip to Melbourne, my wife was able to take a couple of days off and fly down to spend some time with me. The class I was teaching finished just after lunch on the Friday, so I was able to head out to Melbourne Zoo to meet Leanne who had been there since late morning.

    I think it had been about 18 months or so since I was last at the zoo. I remember they had just started on the new elephant exhibit, which is now finished - and I was quite impressed.

    They have created an asian village atmosphere, which lends a great feel to the exhibit. The elephant enclosure must be one of the best I've seen. They have a hut with some interesting displays in it that has an open viewing area lookout out over the elephant enclosure, so you can sit in there and watch the elephants in the cooler shade (or out of the rain !).

    There are other spots to get a good view of the elephant too - and in front of them are a large deep pool area for the elephants to swim in - which is a real treat. While we were there, they fed the elephant a watermelon (a whole one !), which it really seemed to enjoy, before it plunged into the pool for a swim, and they hosed it off as well. It was quite entertaining being so close to the elephant enjoying the water and playing with it's toys.

    Other things of note were seeing Yakini the gorilla - we were at Melbourne Zoo just after he was born in 1999 - and have made a point of going to see him whenever we can in Melbourne.

    Also, the orangutang was carrying a baby - and still climbing all over their enclosure (I have some photos I will upload when I have a chance).

    A bit of a disappointment was the redevelopment of the lions enclosure - (disappointed that it was closed, not that they were redeveloping) - since I've always liked the lion enclosure at Melbourne Zoo, with it's raised viewing platform giving you a great view.

    The baby Meercats are always cute, and I got some good photos too.

    Even though I was only there for a couple of hours, I had a great time. I enjoy Melbourne Zoo - and it is certainly nice to stroll easily around a zoo, unlike Taronga where you need your climbing shoes on ! Melbourne Zoo is well looked after with lovely grounds in a park-like setting.

    I'm disappointed that we weren't able to get to Werribee as well (haven't been there before) - but I hope to be able to make it there while on our way home to Adelaide for Christmas (a little bit out of the way, but possible !).
     
  2. Ruby

    Ruby Member

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    Do you have any idea when the lion enclosure will be finished?

    I'd love to see it, so I'm trying to work out if I should put off my visit for a little while, or brave a visit on the 9th of Dec. with the kindergarten. :(

    hmmm, maybe they need a new enclosure for 4/5 year olds. :D
     
  3. Ruby

    Ruby Member

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    Well we had a very hot sticky day at the Melbourne Zoo yesterday..........it topped 40 degrees, and with a bus load of kindergarten children, it was not my most enjoyable visit to the zoo. The one bonus for the day was the children going into the Discovery Centre, this gave me a free hour to look at some of the exhibits by myself. The heat caused a lot of the animals to very inactive…….I certainly could understand why!!

    I loved the new elephant village……..what a difference to what they used to have!! I have uploaded a couple of pictures into the gallery, hopefully Sim will put some of his there as well.

    The lion enclosure was open…….but the seals were closed. :( Seemed to be more painting and a general tidyup though. The zoo, is looking very nice at the moment and will be glorious when the new flower seedlings spring into bloom.

    The biggest shock for me yesterday was that it was actually cooler in the butterfly house than it was outside……first time I have ever found that!! The kids also loved the bug exhibit and the bouncy ball things. I think I have a photo of it, might post one later on. :)

    All in all, it was still a nice day yesterday…….next time it will be better without the extra kids and the heat.

    Ruby
     
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  4. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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  5. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    I have visited Melbourne zoo twice . It is an excellent zoo , even if it doesnt have Sydneys views .
     
  6. Huib

    Huib Member

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    Elephant enclosure...

    I for one was NOT impressed with the new elephant enclosure...
    Granted, the enclosure itself is well designed and considerably bigger and better appointed than the old one. It's the mock asian viliage/farmlet that really sticks in my craw. The new exhibit is sufficient for the animals they already have, but what those animals need (especially the female) is not a big expensive 'interpretation centre' but more elephants. They are after all herd animals. Melbourne Zoo has no room to expand on it's current site, so in order to build the new elephant enclosure, they had to knock down about 80% of their existing display aviaries (not a popular move with me to begin with ;) ) To then go ahead and use fully a third of the available space (and a big chunk of money) in a manner that IN NO WAY benefits the animals strikes me as criminally irresponsible. :mad:
     
  7. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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    I see your point Huib, but consider the logistics of maintaining a reasonable sized "herd" of elephants ... not a trivial exercise !
     
  8. Huib

    Huib Member

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    Sorry mate, I guess you misunderstood.
    I understand that they could never hope to accommodate and entire herd.
    What I meant was that in the space they had available they could have at least accommodated another female. Maybe even two. Which, as I understand it, would have been the best possible thing they could do for bong-sue(sp?) their existing female. And would also be the best thing to do if they wanted to make a serious attempt at breeding them. But instead they squandered it all on alot of essentially useless window-dressing, leaving the animals in a 1.1 pairing which they KNOW is not only unnatural but even patently stressful to bong-sue. :mad:
     
  9. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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    Yup, I understand.
     
  10. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    actually huib, bong su is the male of melbournes elephants - mek kapah is the female. the zoo does want to breed their elephants and recognises that additional females are critical to this plan. but it would have been totally useless spending the money importing more considering the only accomidation thay had was unsuitable for even two elephants. actually, what you saw was only the first stage of construction of trail of the elephants, stage 1 involves new separate facilities (paddock and barn) for the bull and the controvesial aquisition of an additional 3 young females from thailand.

    - see the thread "elephants for australian zoos" in this forum.

    i must say however, i couldn't disagree with you more in regards to "all that window dressing".

    despite my opinion that the elephants should have moved to werribee, i love the look of the elephant village. it's those cultural elements incorporated into the exhibits that set them apart from the rest and does a good service in educating people. i believe that no doubt one must first to cater to the animals behavioural needs but second to that must cater to the publics too - zoo's as they are today are not very educational experiences despite what they say. zoo's need to learn new methods to make exhibits more engaging, taking advantages of obscure natural behavious the animals may display in the wild for example, or, as is the case with the elephants, incorporate a message about the history elephants have in asian culture and the conflicts humans now have with them.

    now just involve the exhibit with some pro-active elephant conservation programs in the wild - and i'm not taking token effort, i want donation boxes and interpretive graphics, i want the message spread EVERYWHERE, and THEN you have an educational experience for visitors and a benificial outcome for conservation.

    it's a great-looking exhibit!
     
  11. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Melbourne Zoo elephants

    The zoo should get the elephants to assist with the construction of their new Part 2 of the elephant centre .....no ?
    There are some benefits to this idea ;
    Elephants dont need to be paid penal rates etc -- just give them alot of hay , browse ,etc and they will be happy .
    As elephants are used for working purposes in Asia ( Sri Lanka and the likes )
    this will be a good event for the Melbourne Age and other media
    This will keep the elephants occupied , as well as giving them some exercise .

    ideas from anyone else on this line of thought ?
     
  12. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    working elephants

    oh definately. i agree with you nigel. i have have met my fair share of wild and captive elephants (i have been to indochina, sri lanka and india several times) and the happiest elephants i have met in captivity, who all reguarly breed too mind you, are working elephants who put in a few hours each day and then are given the rest of the day and night (elephants only sleep a couple of hours a day!) to wander off and be elephants. in india the females would wander off and meet wild males in the park and get pregnant - proof that these trained females function as a regular herd and still know how to behave like wild elephants. also, any offspring born to them was raised naturally by their mothers but in the human environment and would grow up to be working elephants too (they gave rides to tourists in the park who, like myself, wanted to see indian rhino).

    i thought it was a perfect way to keep happy "captive" elephants.

    also in sri lanka i visited the pinawalla elephant orphanage (more of a breeding center) and thay had over 60 elephants. most of them were born at the orphange and they all lived together in one massive herd. they had an enourmous paddock in which they wre free to roam (as were the tourists, not the safest place!) but they were taken daily for a walk through the towns main street, all 60 of them, to the river for their daily bath. naturally its amazing and a huge tourist attraction. most of the animals in the herd had been brd at the center (the rest rescued) and the males lived in a smaller batchelor group, although the big guy was allowed to live with the herd for breeding. they had a beutiful big tusker who was blind in both eyes and he was lovingly lead to a quieter spot in the river every day for his bath and tenderly fed by his keepers every day.

    so yeah, i think elephants enjoy a bit of work now and again and it was after my visit to this orphanage in sri lanka that i decided that even "trail of the elephants" was not good enough.

    i wondered why something as good as this couldn't have been replicated in australia for our elephants.
     
  13. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    With Wild Seas opening in less than a week and a baby elephant expected some time around Christmas it looks like Melbourne Zoo is shaping up for a busy summer holidays. I for one will have to wait until some time in January to see the new developement and hopefully a little girl elephant (I'd be happy with a boy but a girl would be excellent.:))
     
  14. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    A few observations at Melbourne yesterday:

    - Wild Seas (what happened to "Stories From The Sea"? I guess they realised it was a bit dorky-sounding) is getting the finishing touches for its Wednesday opening. The penguins, at least, are in their new enclosure, which I could see from near the bistro earlier. It's an L-shaped enclosure with a land portion designed to resemble a sand dune as one end of the L, and a rectangular, about 10m long pool on the other end. The pool seems to be a no-frills affair compared with Taronga - it's about a metre, perhaps a metre and a half deep. There are two reasonably sized windows to allow people to watch penguins swimming past them, and adults will also be able to look down into the water.

    The small cat alley is currently closed off - I think the seal enclosure is on this side of the development, because I couldn't see any of it. A small, rectangular pool at the entrance to Wild Sea *might* be the fiddler ray pool.

    I'll be there again on Wednesday morning and might have some photos of the exhibit on Zoochat by late afternoon/early evening.

    Other bits and pieces:
    - A pair of green-winged macaws have arrived and are currently housed in a small flight aviary around the corner from the emperor tamarins and red pandas. This aviary previously held a red-tailed black cockatoo. It's in a secluded portion of the zoo and relatively few people would pass the macaws. They're both quite curious about their new surroundings and take an active interest in people observing them, though they're not *quite* confident enough yet to come up to the wire when you're there (I offered them a scratch with a ballpoint pen - maybe next time ;) ).
    - The lion-tailed macaques are housed in the disused gorilla night quarters next to the primate kitchen window. They are being quarantined and the sign says they will soon move to a "small Tasmanian zoo". I don't know which one. The black-and-white ruffed lemurs are now in the former macaque enclosure and two black-capped capuchins, presumably exiles from the main troop, are in the former lemur enclosure.
    - The three tamarin enclosures opposite the former elephant enclosure have been linked up, and are now all occupied by the golden lion tamarin pair.
    - The Fischer's lovebirds have been taken off display.
    - A common wombat that was orphaned and being cared for at a wildlife hostel that was destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires has been given the former Indian crested porcupine exhibit. Her name is Mary, though I didn't see her.
     
  15. LOU

    LOU Well-Known Member

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    They're moving to Tasmania Zoo.

    :)
     
  16. ZYBen

    ZYBen Well-Known Member

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    Does Tasmania Zoo have another name?
     
  17. ZYBen

    ZYBen Well-Known Member

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    Oh, Devils Haven!
     
  18. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    I have seen the penguin cage from the bistro area too and thought it looked a bit barren and it had no shade apart from nest boxes...Has this been remedied? And there is a pool opposite the small cat alley that is the natural filter (I'm sure it has a proper name but I don't know what it's called (basically uses reeds to filter the water)) is that the pool you meant that could hold rays?

    Those tamarin cages opposite the elephants used to hold emporer tamarins as well. Do you know what happened to them?

    And the lovebirds at the start of the African Rainforest were taken out because of rodent problems.

    I'm glad someone will be there on wednesday. :)
     
  19. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I cannot phantom the lion-taileds going to Tasmania. I would have thought they might be placed at Werribee or perhaps Dubbo (if that were more fitting for an Indian Subcontinent theme.
     
  20. ZYBen

    ZYBen Well-Known Member

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    I think its jst getting the Macaques out of a ZAA Zoo.